Initial Impression – Michigan State at Notre Dame

Notre Dame ended Michigan State's six game winning streak inside Notre Dame Saturday, but serious questions remain regarding the Irish defense.

Notre Dame survived for a 33-30 win over Michigan State to snap the Spartans six game winning streak inside Notre Dame Stadium, but lost star wide receiver Michael Floyd for the foreseeable future.  For the second week in a row, the Irish defense was shredded but a not so unstoppable offense.  Here are my initial impressions from Saturday’s win.

  • Jimmy Clausen is one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Clausen showed a lot of toughness on Saturday. After getting banged up in the second quarter, he sucked it up and led the Irish on a fourth quarter comeback despite having a noticeable limp.  Clausen finished with another 300 yard passing day and added two more passing touchdowns (with a 3rd taken away by the officials) to give him 9 on the season.  Clausen still hasn’t throw an interception even though MSU dropped an easy one on a play where Golden Tate cut off his route.  Clausen is quietly putting his name into Heisman consideration.
  • Losing Michael Floyd is devastating. Clausen did a good job moving the offense with Floyd out, but losing him is really going to change the dynamic of this offense.  Not sure who will step up in Floyd’s absence, but this offense changes a lot without him.  It’s tough for defenses to take away too great receivers.  Golden Tate is going to see a lot more attention the next few weeks.
  • Armando Allen is becoming a very good back. Allen went over 100 yards for the second consecutive week with 115 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown out of the wildcat.  Allen showed some tough inside running again this week and is improving every week.  New running backs coach Tony Alford is doing a hell of a job with Allen.  One of these weeks, Allen is going to have a monster game.  He broke out against Purdue last year and could be in line for a big game next week with Michael Floyd out.  Allen also threw a touchdown out of the wildcat to Robby Parris.
  • This offensive line might actually be nasty. I don’t like the unnecessary roughness penalty from Sam Young at the end of the game, but I love the toughness and nastiness that we are seeing out of the offensive line.  Frank Verducci is getting the offensive line to play a lot harder and tougher than his predecessor was able to.  There is still a lot of work to be done along the offensive before its dominant, but the improvement that Verducci’s been able to get out of the line is pretty remarkable.  It will be nice to see what Verducci is able to do with the offensive line next year with a full year in his system and another off-season.
  • Maybe I was wrong about the wildcat. After the first week I said I didn’t like the wildcat, but this week Notre Dame scored two touchdowns out of the formation so maybe I was a little premature in my judgment.  I will say that I’m still not a fan of the timing in which Weis uses it though.  In the second quarter Notre Dame was up 13-3 with the ball near midfield.  The wildcat got stuffed on first down and after a penalty on second down the Irish drive stalled.  With Notre Dame throwing the ball all over the field at that point I just didn’t see the point in messing with the offense’s rhythm.
  • Kyle Rudolph is one of the best receiving tight ends in the country. Rudolph’s run blocking is still a work in progress, but he is one of the best receiving tight ends in the country and is developing a rather devastating stiff arm.  With Michael Floyd likely missing a considerable amount of time, Rudolph is going to need to step up and be a bigger part of the offense.  He set a career high with 95 receiving yards Saturday.
  • Jonas Gray is still very suspect in pass protection. Gray has shown that he has a ton of potential running the football, but he whiffed on multiple Michigan State’s blitzes throughout the game and looks like a liability in pass protection right now.  One reason to be a little optimistic here is Tony Alford.  As we’ve seen with the improvements in Armando Allen, it looks like Alford can coach.  Hopefully Alford can work with Gray on this and get him up to speed with his blocking because he looks like he’s a very talented back.
  • Andrew Nuss is a pretty good guard. Andrew Nuss came in when Trevor Robinson went down for a little and played pretty good.  He looks like he can be a player and will definitely challenge for a starting spot next season.  It’s very nice to see Notre Dame working in the reserve offensive linemen like Nuss to build a little depth.
  • Where was Shaquelle Evans? After see a lot of Evans down the stretch last week he was MIA this week.  The wide receiver rotations have been a little odd the past couple weeks.  It seems like Weis still hasn’t decided on a true #3 wide receiver yet with Robby Parris, Duval Kamara, Deion Walker, Shaquelle Evans, and John Goodman all getting work at some point or another in the first three games. Someone is going to have to step up with Floyd out now.
  • The defensive line actually played OK. Michigan State only ran the ball for 105 yards and the defensive line actually played OK.  Ethan Johnson started to emerge a little bit on the inside and Ian Williams played his best game of the season.  The line did its job for the most – they occupied the Michigan State offensive line and got some penetration on running plays.  They set up the linebackers with opportunities to make plays pretty often.  Kapron Lewis-Moore made a great hustle play by forcing a fumble way down the field by running to the football.  While the defensive performance in general was troubling, the defensive line actually showed some improvement this weekend.
  • The linebackers did not play OK. While the defensive line took a baby step forward this week, the linebackers took another step backwards.  The linebackers are still missing a ton of tackles and just aren’t getting to the opposing quarterbacks when they blitz.  Toryan Smith had a couple nice games to start the season, but got run over at the goal line on Larry Caper’s third quarter touchdown run.  Not sure where Notre Dame goes from here at linebacker.  Manti Te’o played a little bit more this weekend, but didn’t standout much.  It might be time to stop easing him into playing time and just let him play consistently so he gets into rhythm.
  • Tenuta’s blitz schemes aren’t working. Notre Dame blitzed on almost every passing play but didn’t record a sack.  Either the Notre Dame blitzes are too predictable or poorly designed.  Considering Tenuta’s blitzes have worked everywhere else he’s been its surprising that this is even an issue right now.  On Michigan State’s final drive Notre Dame finally started to get some good pressure on Cousins and the result was the game clinching interception from Kyle McCarthy.
  • The defensive backs left a lot of plays on the field. Kyle McCarthy was great again and now has 3 picks in 3 games, but his fellow defensive backs left a lot of plays on the field.  Darrin Walls could have (maybe should have) had two interceptions.  Ray Herring dropped a pick that would have clinched the game earlier than McCarthy’s game winner did.  Sergio Brown missed a bunch of tackles again this week.  Once the defensive backs started playing more press coverage they started to make more plays.  When they were giving Michigan State a large cushion in the first half, MSU was just playing pitch and catch.
  • Darius Fleming, Ethan Johnson, and Ian Williams played better. I was pleasantly surprised with the play of each of these three players who had rough starts to their seasons.  Ethan Johnson started to make an impact at DT this weekend.  His play there is still a work in progress, but he had a nice game.  Ian Williams had, by far, his best game since his freshman season too.  Darius Fleming had two tackles for loss and played better down the stretch as well.  He is still lining up at defensive end more often than not it seems, but he started to play better this weekend as well.
  • Nick Tausch had a lot of leg on his 47 yard field goal. Tasuch missed an extra point and had a couple shaky kickoffs, but his 47 yarder had a lot of leg on it.  It would have been good from another 5+ yards out.  Granted, the attempt was from dead center, but it was still nice to see Tausch nail that kick.  One thing that concerns me is that his approach seems to be a little slow and could lead to blocked kicks down the road.  He is now 4 for 5 on the season and is 2 for 2 from 40+ yards.  That’s not a bad start for a true freshman.
  • Special teams were better despite the missed extra point. Taush had a couple iffy kickoffs but the Irish did a better job on coverage this weekend.  The blocked extra point by Ethan Johnson turned out to be huge since it dramatically changed Michigan State’s play calling at the end of the game.  Theo Riddick had a nice return on Michigan State’s first kick and Barry Gallup showed really nice vision on his lone return.  Gallup sees the lanes very well.
  • I’m glad to be done with the Big 10 officials. Without going too much into the official, I will be very happy to not see the Big 10 officials at all again this season.

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  1. Not convinced this was such a great win. MSU is improved but not much. Michigan also improved but should never have beaten the Irish. I feel this was a Spartie loss not Irish win. We have to play more focused. Penalties will kill you even if they are phantom at times. Don’t help with real ones.

  2. Purdue is awful. They and Washington State are the 2 worst teams on the schedule…if ND can’t win next week, there are severe, severe problems.

    1. Not sure I agree with that assessment in a week to week situation. They played Oregon tough and laid an egg this past Sat. In the first year of a program in transition does a loss to N. Ill get remembered or a win against ND? I would try to beat the Irish even if it meant blosing the game before. The notoriety of the upset would help recruiting. But your assessment of Purdue throughout the season is absolutely correct.

      1. Oh I’m not saying there’s no chance Purdue makes it a game…I’m just saying there’s absolutely no reason for ND to let them. ND is so much more talented than Purdue this year that even letting this be a game would be a total failure on our part.

      2. I believe it’s a “Rare Night Game” in West Lafayette. And is televised by ESPN. I fully exspect their fans to be whipped up pretty good by kick off time. A good fast start will go a long way toward winning this game.
        This should be a game where we continue our running game further, Jimmy Claussen establishes some new recievers, and our defence settles in and plays sound football.
        Seattle Washington is a long way to go on a shortened week.
        Making progress in this game is a must for future success.

  3. Strange, I felt almost like this was a loss and I shouldn’t. First, another wonderful treatment of ND by the refs. Two feet in bounds, ball wrapped up, and it’s overturned? You gotta be kidding. Is the NCAA pissed because ND is trying to play by the rules? Do they want thug teams that make a joke of the “student” in student athlete? Are the networks looking for dirty programs to juice up the conversation and boost ratings? I don’t get the treatment.

    Grades: Offense – A minus – O-line is solid and can be nasty. Someone needs to work the refs to allow equal
    treatment of ND’s O-line compared to what the opponents are allowed.
    The offense needs to put games away, and needs to be more clutch at the end.
    Better adjustments by the coaches, and a learning to sustain the late drives so
    you don’t leave it up to the Defense to win it for you.

    Defense – C Defensive line was OK against a team that isn’t running well this year. No
    success at blitzing and it’s so predictable everyone is prepared for it. Why not
    fake and drop out into maximum pass coverage. Speaking of which, ND was
    exposed for having short corners. MSU basically had receivers grabbing the ball
    at will. I would think the coverage would work better with the corner going for
    the ball, and a safety or second corner going for the hit. Each player in the
    secondary seems to play like on an island and not in real coordinated fashion
    with one another. That’s coaching.
    Special Teams B minus Kicking was inconsistent while capable. Coverage was good when kicks had
    some hang time.

    Coaching B minus The coaches had the team ready for the game and eliminated some mistakes.
    But few adjustments were made after MSU adjusted on offense. MSU’s defense
    seemed to adjust somewhat. Also, the fire or killer instinct just isn’t there.
    Defense plays competently but without intimidation. The offense is great but
    not clutch. Once you get a lead you go for the throat. This team doesn’t do
    that. Coaching. And there still seems to be the idea of outfoxing the opponent
    when just hitting them right in the teeth will do. Gashing runs and pounders up
    the middle keep the clock running and don’t lose yardage.

    Summary: Better outcome, but not by much versus last week. Michigan might not be that good either. And now Washington and Pitt are starting to look like games to fear. Even next week’s game can’t be assumed given how strong Purdue looked against Oregon. Notre Dame’s got their work cut out. Weis would do well to keep calling Holtz.

    1. Remember how everyone was hacking on us about our “easy” schedule before the season started? First, ND has never scheduled a 1AA opponent. Nevada is one of the top teams in their conference, Michigan is… well Michigan, Mich. ST is a sound team under Dantonio. Purdue put up some big munbers in their first game and looks to have found a running back. Washington is very much improved,(Just ask USC) Navy gave the Buckeyes all they could handle, Pitt. is a seasoned team, Stanford is much stronger this year. Outside of maybe Wash.ST, every weeks opponent is a viable adversary.
      With Aldridge down, Floyd done for the year, and Jimmy nicked up, we need to circle the wagons. ND did a nice job of pulling together after a tough loss to Michigan. I think that’s going to be our rally cry from here on out!
      We need to pull together, and everyone needs to contribute.
      Maybe this is one of those teams that just wins ugly

      1. Shazamrock,
        Well said. The kids are playing as best they know how right now. Our schedule does look a lot tougher than projected.

        ND can win out. And while we can cheer. Weis needs to understand what obstacles exist to winning out and over prepare. Holtz overprepared and had every detail covered. He knew their backs were always against a wall. He kneew there was bias against ND. And he knew ND had to take away all doubt.

        I hope you are right. But it depends on Weis’ leadership to adjust now and during the season. They can do it.

  4. Where is Manti Te’o? Everytime he was in the game on Saturday he was blitzing into 1-2 offensive lineman and stopped. The defense needs some work and I saw Toryan Smith miss a couple of tackles. We won because Michigan State could not throw to a receiver in the end zone WIDE OPEN.

    I agree that Clausen and the offense is very much improved, but we can’t win every game with offense without Floyd on the field. Without Floyd, the ND Defense needs to hold opponents below 25 per game.

    The secondary is not playing up to their pre-season expectations. They don’t look fast and not breaking up too many passes. McCarthy….you are the exception and I am looking forward to watching you on Sundays.

    We had ZERO sacks on QB with a blitz on almost every play. We need Nix to commit from Miami and come to ND. There is not pressure on QB.

    It’s nice being 2-1 and we really need some of our Defensive athletes to get nasty and make some plays to keep on winning.

  5. Can’t help but feel ND has become an average NCAA Div 1 team. Right now we are not germaine to the college football world. A bump in the road over which top ten teams travel. Charlie got hired to bring ND back into that conversation. National football prominence. More than a memory but a national contender. Five years out we’re happy to escape a MSU team, beaten by Central Michigan the week before. I’m beginning to feel like a Northwestern fan, just happy to get out in the sun for a few hours!

  6. Yet again, the defense left much to be desired. So far we’ve made Forcier and Cousins look like Tim Tebow, yet we shut down the nation’s most effect offense last year in the first game? Need to be more consistent on the defensive side the ball.

    Penalties, particularly Sam Young, drive me crazy. I mean, how can a guy who has started that many games pull that same crap over and over?

    Don’t need to repeat anything about the offense. Brilliant as it has been all this year.

    The officiating was bad, Big Ten officiating overall is just terrible. You should see the basketball, it’s awful.

    Go irish, crush Purdue!

  7. I agree with the over blitzing…we no longer can mask our blitz because Tunata only knows blitzing…there is a time and place for blitzing.

  8. I’ll tell you what was learned from this game- nothing of value. It was a carbon copy of the Michigan game. The only reason it’s not a loss is because of a horrible interception thrown to Mccarthy, and of course ND’s great offense.

    Our offense w/ Claussen at the helm was brilliant, per usual- great job Jimmy and co. Our defense was swiss cheese per usual. Tenuta’s blitz schemes are useless. Our linebackers suck and aren’t quick enough to pick up receivers.

    The officiating was horrific. I made fun of people for being conspiratorial about the refs last week, but now I may need to eat my words, especially regarding my exchanges with Shazamrock. I have no explanation for them taking away Floyd’s touchdown other than for “personal reasons”. It’s as if these officials are thinking, “I am not giving ND points- no way.”

    Weis dodged a bullet with this one but his days are numbered. 150 yds. of penalties in 2 games. As usual, a total lack of discipline and preparedness. As I’ve said for years, THE HEAD COACH SETS THE TONE AND MOTIVATES. Weis does not have this ability. How many more losses do the Weis supporters need? MSU should have won that game.

    I am so sick and tired of Weis’s fat, slovenly, lazy ass that I could puke. Yes, of course I’m glad it’s a win but I felt alot like I did after the Michigan game- deja vu all over again. FIRE THIS IDIOT! HE IS NOT A HEAD COLLEGE COACH AND NEVER WILL BE.

    1. Come on man … give Weis a little credit. I’m sick of hearing some of you bitching ND fans complain about everything.

      Weis might not be perfect, but he sure is a HELL of a lot better than Davies and Willingham.


      1. I do give him credit- for being a good xs and o’s tactician. That is not enough in college football. You must lead young men and he CLEARLY CANNOT. How many more losses do you need? How many more 3-9 seasons?

      2. Pros and Cons re: Charlie Weiss

        Pros: Great recruiter, good to great offensive coordinator

        Cons: He is not a head coach, and until Belichick educated him, Charlie was basically an appendage at New England. And I have to agree about the fat, slovenly comment, the guy’s basically a pig – he can’t even use the excuse of being an ex-lineman for being obese, but instead had to have bariatric surgery because he couldn’t stop stuffing his face, and then has the gall to sue because there were complications with the surgery. This is the type of mindset we’re dealing with.

      3. Folks…it’s WEIS!!

        Charlie has recruited GREAT on the offensive side and good on the defensive side. Te’o was a huge win for us and still not sure how we got him.

        Is it fair to say he doesn’t “get it” since he never played college ball? He knows football, knows the x’s and o’s, but doesn’t get the most out of his players. He has NEVER been a head coach at any level. Look at who we have to compare him to…Urban Meyer, Pete Carrol, Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Les Miles…on and on. Those guys have “IT”. HONESTLY…you wouldn’t rather have one of those guys as a coach at ND??

      4. You are dead on target Dublin. My point exactly. He’s never walked the same walk as his players and that makes a difference. He’s never had to truly lead young men and that makes a difference.

  9. I know a win is a win but, if the wide open receiver in the end zone catches the ball were 1-2. This team is undisciplined and talks entirely to much crap. Is it just me or is anyone else seeing this.

    1. Yes I notice it all.
      However,ND is just seconds away from being 3-0.
      The CROWD MUST truly show up in each and every way against Washington and USC.
      First the Huskies–then the Pasadena boys.
      To my knowledge, Washington is 0-5 or something against Notre Dame.
      Let’s keep their big wins out west–and congratulate them on the improvement.
      So—the season is not over with Floyd out.
      ONE person does not make a team. ( or at least it should not.)
      NOBODY is a gimme–
      Still–with Lou Holtz the Irish could WIN ANY GAME
      and now I see the Irish could go either way in a game.
      SPECIAL TEAMS AND DEFENSE MUST COUNT –and NOT WAIT “for another moment” and forget the word “schematic”
      or “scheme”
      JUST DO IT
      ND SHOULD remember the plan against SC in the heartbreaking 34-31 loss
      HOG IT
      DO IT

  10. I am originally from Ireland, been living here in Arizona since 2003. Started following ND during Ty’s last year and fell in love during Weis’s first. Weis’ teams have always been good offensively, bar the last two years when we did not have great seniors. Now we are scoring again, Clausen is brilliant, Allen is vastly improved, Floyd, Tate and Rudolph are amazing receivers. Floyd will be missed, but I think we have enough talent to step up. Rudolph’s run blocking also noticably improved against the Spartans. All in all, offence is good to go. Our defence on the other hand is garbage. It is too predictable with all the blitzing. We have never had a strong defence. We would have lost yesterday, but Cousins over threw a wide open receiver in the endzone. Everytime the opposition get the ball I expect a score the same way I think feel confident that we will score when we get it. The defence has to improve. USC are there for the taking, worst team they have had in years, we have the offence to score 30 points, but can the defence hold them to 30. I don’t think so.

  11. The refs killed us not only on the obvious Floyd touchdown but on other calls as well (flagging us for a late hit out of bounds but no flag when they did it, not calling obvious holding penalties against them but we sneeze wrong and get flagged are just a few of many examples). If we can’t get calls away and can’t get them at home, when exactly will we get a fair shake? I think it’s obvious the Big Ten refs were told to squeeze ND in both games. At least we didn’t lose both. Too bad the season is basically over with Floyd gone. Remember what happened when he went out last year? We’ll be lucky to get 7-5 this year. Jeeez, we can’t even count on the Washington game now!!

  12. I was listening to the game in the squad car but it appears to me that our defense is still our achilles heel. It seemed to me we gave up way too many 8-13 or so yard plays at a time down the stretch and MSU just kept marching down the field and i was having flashbacks to last week. We are still giving up way too many points the way we did the last two years. I think the main difference is we have enough of an offense to shoot it out with other teams. Its not too comforting and i’d like to see alot less nail biting wins. Maybe we quit blitzing/gambling so much like alot of other people have said. I feel no lead is safe with this team, but a win is a win

  13. A few more things:The demeanor or Weiss is interesting.
    Anyone care to comment?
    I think that can speak volumes to the adrenaline of a team.
    BTW, sorry folks, the word is numerically( not numberically)
    and Yards-( not yards)
    My future ND children are distracting! LOL
    Discipline, NO penalties,
    improve the running game,
    hog the ball,
    and consistent defense–fixing the holes in the middle.
    Imporve kicking game-special teams on punts-

    good job on blocking the point after to State
    and GREAT interception.
    Have a great Sunday!
    Go Irish!

  14. For a moment I thought we were going to have Michigan-Notre Dame repeat all over again. 3rd down and passing ( instead of running and grinding out some clock) was a bit much for two weeks in a row–against teams from the same state no less. ( Never mind the numberically incorrect name of “that ” conference.)
    Too many penalites shows a lack of discipline.
    74 Sam Young can be nasty all he wishes to be-but DO NOT COST THE TEAM SOME YEARDS AT CRUCIAL POINTS IN THE GAME.
    As for the “swan dive” into the band–can that REALLY be costly to ND?
    Did he not have momentum and therefore could not stop?
    ( Hey Texas darn near ran into their 2000 pound mascot-talk about Momentum)
    Whether it was intentional or not – It was for a brief moment sweet revenge from when Sparty and company brought out the Green flags and planted them in the midst of the field.
    As for Purdue-NEVER consider them to be “awful” ( Drew S)
    anyting can happen. AS for this game, I am RELIEVED to see the win.
    I am RELIEVED to see the BIG 11 Officials go away.
    Holding? again? Really?
    ON paper, ND ‘should’ have shredded Michigan and MSU.
    Stats mean nothing when 100 yards is in front of you.
    Purdue game is at night-and on ABC-two things which really do not bode well for the Irish at times.
    That said, I am proud that the offense never says die.
    I hope the entire team has a killer instinct to dominate and harpoon the Boilers before they make this a “game to remember”
    After all, a team clad in Purple from Seattle is just WAITING to prove to the nation that they are exactly what I said they would be:
    THE MOST IMPROVED Division 1 team in the NCAA.
    Still much more work to be done–
    Go Irish!

    1. I’m not sure ND is the “most improved Div. 1 team”. That honor, for me, and it hurts me to admit it goes, to Miami, which may find itself ranked in the top 5 this week. They’re 2-0 and beat 2 ranked teams. ND can’t match that production. Sorry to burst your bubble, but we’re a long way away from beating a top 10 team.

      1. No–what I said -or meant to say was WASHINGTON is the most improved team in the NCAA. ” A team clad in purple is just wating to prove to the nation that THEY are the Most Improved Division I team in the NCAA.”
        That is Washington-the Huskies.
        I just hope that we can counter act their enthusiasm.
        THE HUSKIES have momentum for the first time in ages!!!

  15. I’m so sick of Sam Young and the penalties, missed assignments/blocks. The only thing the guy has going for him is size. IMO, he’s been a detriment to the offensive line for the past 3+ years. I don’t think it’s lack of coaching, I think the guys a poor to mediocre football player. How many penalties does the guy average per game, 2 to 3 would be my guess.

    1. You’ve touched on one of my pet peeves. I too have watched Sam Young struggle.
      I have watched our tight ends not being part of the passing attack because they have to help Young. You don’t think his poor performance is due to lack of coaching. However, his continual presence on the field is due to a coach’s decision.

    2. I agree strongly. Sam Young and Darrin Walls absolutely KILL us every game. Young with penalties and Walls getting smoked every play. They should sit.

  16. The defense “disorganized”? What went on out there was more than “Disorganized”!Arm tackles ,wide open receivers,to many players on the field,flat out missed tackles,dbacks not even looking for the ball or for that matter not even looking back.Number 2 lost but certainly not alone,on side kick not covered(hint the offense does not have to wait for the ball to go ten yards)!The first two games the opposing offenses were “unconventional”we were informed this would be a more conventional offense so the Defense would be better.What excuse this week?Coaches have to step up and expalin what is wrong!Tenuta and Brown need to be more visable.Weis may be the Head Coach but these two get paid also!!

    1. I agree, the defense is MIA. Just as Weiss is not a head coach (he’s an offensive coordinator), Tenuta is not an effective assistant head coach, nor defensive coordinator. How many times have ND’s blitzes succeeded in any pressure/sacks? Not many compared to the amount of times they’re run, which is almost every play. Is it that ND just doesn’t have the defensive talent?

      1. The pressure on the qb caused msu’s quarterback to throw a pick that won us the game…just food for thought

      2. Botttom Line- ND should have won the Michigan game, but lost because of the passes Weiss called on the last ND possession, and should have lost the Michigan Sate game due to the crappy pass MSU quaterback threw to the wide open receiver as the clock ran down at end of game (of course maybe there’s some argument about Floyd’s TD that was called a non-TD). ND could just as easily be 3-0, but the reality is a 2-1 team with no appreciable defense, to speak of.

  17. Boy the defense looked disorganized for a good chunk of the middle of the game. To say they got shredded by a mediocre offense may be an understatement. The offensive play calling tends to get a little “cute” and that kills drives. Line play both sides was a little inconsistent. Strength and conditioning do we have it? We should have won that game walking away.

  18. Good analysis of the game. A few points I would like to make:

    The Swan dive into the Michigan State Band may hurt us if Michigan State decides to contact the NCAA.

    Another TD drop by Tate hurt us on a bad down and distance situation.

    The blitz scheme doesnt work because we blitz on every single down. So teams practice picking up the blitz every week and someone is always running wide open across the middle of the field. Also, we always blitz on the edge of the line, which means once the RB breaks through the arm tackles at the line o’ scrimmage, the next level is the DBs.

    Overall i was impressed with Clausen and Allen who both seemed to be playing through injury.

    I think the D-Line only looked improved because Michigan state knew they could not continually run the ball if they expected to keep up with our high scoring offense.

  19. Golden Tate is still the man! …but the last couple weeks he has had a few suprising drops. Hopefully we’ll see a tighter performance next week.

      1. tom i disagree with you, i like his swagger and that is exactly what we need on the defensive side of the ball

  20. Frank – I love your analysis. My two points are:

    Offense – need to start rotating backs more and give Gray, Hughes and Riddick more carries. Allen is MUCH improved this year and is playing at a new level, but is a smaller back taking a lot of punishment. We can’t afford to lose him now. Against Purdue, we should go to a two-back or pro set and play smashmouth football.

    Defense – STOP BLITZING!! I love Tenuta, but he his putting linebackers out of position on almost every play and the corners have to play off the the receivers too much, allowing for timing passes underneath. We wear ourselves down by blitzing so much. A good 3 to 5 step drop and we still can’t get to the QB. We give up so many 3rd downs as well! Right now, Kyle McCarthy IS our defense. I don’t know where we would be without him.

  21. Is anyone else impressed that this offense just does not give up? This team would have folded when they fell behind in the 4th quarter in the past. They have come from behind in the 4th quarter twice now. I feel that Jimmy thinks he can take them for a score whenever he has too.

    The defense on the other hand needs some work. If they can improve, this team will be unstoppable for the rest of the year.

  22. Floyd’s ‘no touchdown’ still needs explanation. A ton of wide receiver talent should be enough to keep this offense clicking. JC is outstanding.

    The defensive line was much improved. Linebackers and corners very suspect.

  23. I’ve seen numerous places saying Clausen still doesn’t have an interception, but didn’t he throw one to end the first half? I’m 99% sure that was ruled a catch by the Michigan State DB when he heaved it downfield.

  24. Works for me. Though Purdue is awful so hopefully ND doesn’t even let the score remain close enough that officials could even help determine the outcome.

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